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The Learning Organisation

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

In June 2009, we were challenged with the idea of putting our team through a program that would change our working dynamics forever. To be honest, when the idea was first presented to me, I was not convinced; in fact I believed it would be a total waste of our time. Little did I realise the impact that following this program would have on our business.

And so our journey down the road of self-discovery began…

openroadThe initial program started off with a 2-hour session in which we did the DOPE test. I still remember having flashbacks to my colourful past of experimentation, but fortunately that wasn’t the type of ‘dope’ being referred to here. The concept rather revolves around the concept that we all belong to one of 4 primary bird groups, namely Dove, Owl, Peacock or Eagle. At first, this seemed rather silly to me, but once we had all completed the various questionnaires, plotted the graphs, and finally reviewed the characteristics of the respective groups we belonged to, I found myself immensely intrigued, and all of a sudden I wanted to know more.

Before I knew it, we had signed up for the full workshop and were on our way down the path to self-discovery.

The program consisted of five full day sessions, each focusing on the five main aspects of The Learning Organisation, namely:

Personal Mastery covered the aspects of being and developing oneself as a leader.  A critical aspect of this is the understanding that as long as one is in the proverbial comfort zone, there is very little chance for growth. It is only when one moves into the zone of discomfort that the opportunity for growth really presents itself.  This discomfort is brought about by being introduced to what one is missing from one’s life as a leader.

We then explored the aspect of values, each of us being given a list containing up to 30 different values. We had to identify with and highlight our top ten values. To test our true commitment to these values, we were run through a series of tests to see how true and committed we were to these. Through this process, we filtered down to our true values. What I found exceptionally interesting was how quickly one’s values change based upon the situation one finds oneself in.

Next we explored the Drivers for Change, mapped against the Sigmoid curve – the principle being that if you’re not growing you are dying. These drivers are either desperation, aspiration or anticipation. If you’re not moving up the curve, then you are rapidly moving down the curve.

Mental Models demonstrated how a team of 15 people, given exactly the same information, deduced totally different findings and how, based upon our upbringing, experiences and beliefs, built ideas that shaped the way we look at things and made decisions long before we’ve explored all the evidence.

We then moved on to Team Learning, which explores the Credibility Gap – the difference between what you say and what you do – and how this difference impacts on the picture people have of you.  We were taught how to be aware of it and make adjustments to it so that this gap could be closed, bringing about a “whole” view of oneself in the eyes of other people.

We also explored the Johari Window. Through honest responses to a structured questionnaire, we were shown where, depending on the situation we find ourselves in, we may be saying too little or not asking anything versus saying or asking too much. The Johari Window breaks us into either the Oyster, Interviewer, Lecturer or Fully Engaged, the latter being the one to strive for. Once this was been explored, we launched into the next phase where, through a series of breakaway sessions, we tested and understood the true tools of engagement: high quality advocacy and inquiry.

Systems Thinking clarified that in order to handle any situation, one needs to look beneath the surface. Just as only 10% of an iceberg is seen from above the water line, it is only by being aware of what is going on underneath that one can start addressing a situation effectively.

In the final session, Shared Vision – in my opinion, the overall purpose of the program – we learned the importance of shared, or sharing vision. Any organisation looking to create a vision for itself can either do so from the top down – where the company tells its employees what the company’s vision is, or for better results, through understanding of what each person in the organisation wants to achieve for themselves and that through sharing, the people that make up a company can work together to combine their individual visions into a combined company vision.

Although Friday the 12th of March was our last session, it was really only the beginning for our company. Through the initiatives that we have started as part of this program- such as weekly R&D sessions where our entire team takes time out to research the latest trends and develop new, innovative solutions – we have already seen many amazing developments unfold within our company.mountaintop

We now find ourselves at an interesting point in our careers, where the opportunities of the marketplace and the passion of our team unite to take us to a level not yet defined.

The sky right now is, quite literally, the limit, and it is on this note that I would like to say thank you to my incredible team and, as Zig Ziglar once said, “See you at the top!”

Ceri James, Sales and Marketing Director, JD Internet Consulting

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E-mail support

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

There seem to be misconceptions about how e-mail servers work. People seem to think that e-mails work independently from the internet. In order for anyone to be able to send and receive e-mails regardless of the internet connection you’re using you need to have a good internet connection and speed.

Sometimes you’ll find that you are able to connect to the internet but when you click on “send and receive” you don’t get your e-mails. At this point you start to panic thinking your e-mail has been suspended or it is broken. Well sometimes it is suspended or broken but not everybody is aware that the path that the e-mails take while traveling through internet connections is different to that of the website servers.

In layman’s terms both your water pipe and electricity cables run underground, if the electricity cables break it doesn’t mean your water will stop running but if the water pipe bursts, it may affect your electricity. In this case if your internet connection is down, it will affect your e-mails because e-mails use the internet to travel from one address to the next; internet is the mails’ transport. You are asking yourself why don’t I get e-mails even though I have an internet connection.

You may have an internet connection but your signal maybe weak or your connection may be slow losing packets and data on its way to its destination. Because the connection is so bad the mail server takes about 60 seconds to open a session and push the e-mail through. If the 60 seconds are up and the session is still open then a second session is opened. By this time the two sessions are running simultaneously, which slows the connection even more. Every time that you click send/receive it opens the session and therefore delaying the time for the server to close the sessions.
Each session needs to be closed one after the other by the server before your e-mails will come pouring in again.

The best remedy is that as soon as you realise that outlook is hanging and none of your e-mails are coming in, you contact your server provider and find out if there are any internet connection problems that are delaying your e-mails before assuming the worse.

South Africa is currently experiencing severe degradation to international servers due to a cable break on the SAT3 international link. This affects everyone in South Africa because there are services that you will try to get to online but will not be available, hence your internet connection, depending on the routing that it takes may be affected leaving you with a slow internet connection. This means that a great many of us will have trouble either browsing the net or downloading our e-mails as effectively as usual.

According to Telkom, their technicians are presently working on the problem and will be resolved soon.

Welcome to Ponder

Friday, July 31st, 2009

For quite some time the team at JD Internet Consulting and DiscoverSEO have been planning to create an outlet for our thoughts, ideas and industry commentary. This was often postponed in favour of serving our clients,  however the time has come and will henceforth channel all of our cognitive reflections through to our readers. To make sure that you do not get too bored with technology and industry topics, we will include a little lifestyle, gardening, fly fishing and possibly some whiskey features from time to time.

We have a number of topics lined up for the next few weeks and these will include the musings of our production manager, a look at the latest search marketing and design trends, some case studies and possibly a few comments on the changes that are affecting all South Africans on a daily basis.

I trust you will enjoy the journey with us and we welcome any comments and feedback that you may have.